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Where to Stay in Tokyo: Japan’s Quirkiest Hotels

by ClaireBullen February 2014 - last edited September

Tokyo is many things – sprawling, overwhelming, totally captivating – and few would argue that it’s also one of the world’s quirkiest places. The city’s offbeat nature extends, as well, to its hotels. For the traveller seeking a place to stay that exemplifies the city’s unique character, these five unusual options – from a manga café equipped with sleeping areas to one of the city’s famous ‘sleep pod’ capsule hotels – make for an unforgettable night in the Japanese capital.


Ryokan Sawanoya | Japan's Quirkiest Hotels

Traditional Japanese tea room © steveyager/iStock/Thinkstock


For the true Japanophile, a night spent at the Ryokan Sawanoya is a perfect way to discover Tokyo’s traditional culture. Yanaka inn features old-fashioned architecture and even two onsen-style baths, and when guests arrive, they’re greeted with a tray of tea. The classically Japanese amenities follow suit: expect to sleep on a tatami mats and futons on the floor.


Capsule Hotel | Japan's Quirkiest Hotels

Capsule hotels are popular among business men and tourists in Japan © Kojach/flickr


More interested in Tokyo’s modern side than its traditional origins? A night at a capsule hotel is in order. The truly bizarre hotels offer little more than a place to lay your weary head, and the miniscule pods typically contain just a bed, a small TV, and shades that can be pulled across the glass door that seals the sleeper in. While some capsule hotels can be seedy, or are aimed at salarymen who’ve missed the last train home, the Asakusa Capsule Hotel is one of the best, and caters to both men and women.


Manga Kissa | Japan's Quirkiest Hotels

The Manga Kissa is a great option for plugged-in travellers © Banalities/flickr


Another option for the plugged-in traveller, particularly one who’s operating on a tight budget? The manga kissa, or café. Though these venues are packed with Japanese comic books, reading isn’t the main objective here. Rather, manga kissas host private cubicles that come equipped with reclining leather chairs, computers, pillows and blankets, and which can be rented for the evening. Whether frequented by young people who’d prefer not to rent an apartment, workers looking for an inexpensive place to crash, or the curious traveller, they’re a uniquely Japanese phenomenon. The GeraGera Manga Café chain exemplifies the style, and is one of the most affordable sleeping options in the city.


Castle Hotel | Japan's Quirkiest Hotels

Live like royals in a castle © Ryan McBride/flickr


If you’re looking for an option that’s a few notches up on the comfort (and price) scale, one of Tokyo’s most unusual places to stay is The Meguro Emperor Love Hotel. Designed especially as a romantic getaway spot, though it’s accessible for all, the hotel’s exterior is distinctive for its castle-like design, complete with spires. On the inside, highly decorated rooms complete the theme, with plush bedding, elaborate wallpaper, and marble fixtures.


Claska | Japan's Quirkiest Hotels

Claska is perfect for the design-savvy traveller © Claksa


Prefer your quirk with a dose of design cred? The trendy Claska is a boutique hotel that’s as unusual as it is stylishly outfitted. While a number of traditional Japanese-style bedrooms are on offer, the hotel’s ‘Contemporary’ rooms have been designed by various artists. One features a bed made of stuffed animals; another uses branches and dried flowers as decoration. Meanwhile the ‘Weekly Residence’ rooms are nothing short of conceptual, with special nooks carved into the wall designed to fit a lamp, hair dryer, TV, and more. Also on site are a studio, gallery, and restaurant.


Claska | Japan's Quirkiest Hotels

There's a place for everything at Claska © Claska 


Whether you’re after a dose of luxury or are fine with sleeping in a two-metre long bedroom, Tokyo’s hotels cover the full spectrum of unusual. Don’t forget to bring a camera: odds are, you won’t stay in another hotel like these anytime soon.


Virgin Atlantic operates daily direct flights to TokyoBook your flight today.


Have you stayed in any of these quirky Tokyo hotels? What did you make of the experience? Let us know in the comments section below.


Written by Claire Bullen

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February 2014

I have to travel a lot for my business, primarily in Europe and Asia to great cities like Tokyo, but often in the states. I used to use sites like Travelocity to book my lodging, but I stumbled upon the better way to find deals: go to the second level sites - those like http://ReservationCreation.com who compare the hundreds of different booking sites in one single search. You'll not only see Trivago or Expedia deals, but ALL OF THEM in one place. I must have saved over 3,000 Euros since I started using them. I sincerely believe that using only one of the top booking sites is not necessarily the best idea.

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February 2015

Thank you for sharing your Tokyo experience Claire! I nearly booked the chic Claska hotel in my previous trip to Tokyo but realized it's located in Meguro. Since it was my first trip last time, I booked a hotel in Shinjuku which offered better convenience for first time travelers. Nevertheless, I will still consider to stay in Claska in my next trip to Tokyo. Looks like it's a very fun and modern hotel.


For anyone who wishes to stay in Tokyo, please feel free to check out my blog: Where to Stay in Tokyo for First Time Tourists.


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About the author: ClaireBullen

Claire Bullen

Claire is a born globetrotter: before relocating to London, she spent time in New York, Paris, Philadelphia, Chicago, and San Francisco. When she's not in pursuit of the next exciting meal, she can be found haunting indie bookstores and sketching outdoors. Follow Claire @ClaireMBullen